Information Processing Biology Unit (Ichiro Maruyama)

Unit outline

Proper processing of external information, such as environmental changes and cell-cell communication, is vital for all forms of life ranging from unicellular organisms such as bacteria and yeasts to multicellular worms, mice and humans. Improper processing of the information leads to a variety of diseases including developmental and mental diseases and cancers.

Research Project Overview

The aim of this research is to understand how external information is sensed and processed by life at the molecular level. We will use bacteria, cultured animal cells, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, mice and rats as model systems for this research. Using bacteria and cultured cells, we will try to understand how the organisms sense and respond to environmental changes. These simpler models will allow us to more efficiently understand molecular mechanisms underlying information processing. Using multicellular higher organisms, instead, we will try to understand how sensory organs detect external information, how neuronal cells communicate with each other and how the information is processed in the brain. The C. elegans nervous system is much simpler and may allow us to more efficiently analyze the processing mechanisms at molecular and cellular levels. Results from C. elegans will be compared with those from more complex organisms such as mice and rats using transgenic animals when necessary, and would contribute to an understanding of mechanisms underlying information processing by human brains.

These studies should contribute to an understanding of various human diseases and to the development of drugs for these diseases, and may contribute to the development of artificial devices such as novel types of computers and sensors.

Recent Publications (selected)

  • Canu, N., Pagano, I., La Rosa, L. R., Pellegrino, M., Ciotti, M. T., Mercanti, D., Moretti, F., Sposato, V., Triaca, V., Petrella, C., Maruyama, I., Levi, A. and Calissano, P. (2017) Association of TrkA and APP is promoted by NGF and reduced by cell death-promoting agents. Front. Mol. Neurosci.  (doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00015) 

  • Maruyama, I. N. (2017) Receptor guanylyl cyclases in sensory processing. Front. Endocrinol 7, 173 (doi: 10.3389/fendo.2016.00173).
  • Maruyama, I. N. (2015) Activation of transmembrane cell-surface receptors via a common mechanism? The "rotation model." (Invited Review). BioEssays 37, 959-967 (doi: 10.1002/bies.201570091).
  • Murayama, T. & Maruyama, I. N. (2015) Alkaline pH sensor molecules. Journal of Neuroscience Research 93, 1623-1630 (doi: 10.1002/jnr.23621).
  • Maruyama, I. N. (2014) Mechanisms of activation of receptor tyrosine kinases: monomers or dimers (Invited Review). Cells 3, 304-330 (doi:10.3390/cells3020304). 
  • Murayama, T. and Maruyama, I. N. (2013) Decision making in C. elegans chemotaxis to alkaline pH: Competition between two sensory neurons, ASEL and ASH. Communicative & Integrative Biology 6, e26633.; PMID: 23664973.
  • Sassa, T., Murayama, T. and Maruyama, I. N. (2013) Strongly alkaline pH avoidance mediated by ASH sensory neurons in C. elegans (Plenary Article Award) Neuroscience Letters 555, 248-252.  
  • Murayama, T., Takayama, J., Fujiwara, M. and Maruyama, I. N. (2013) Environmental alkalinity sensing mediated by the transmembrane guanylyl cyclase GCY-14 in C. elegans.  Current Biology 23, 1007-1012. 
  • Amano, H., and Maruyama, I. N. (2011) Aversive olfactory learning and associative long-term memory in Caenorhabditis elegans. Learning & Memory 18, 654-665. 
  • Shen, J. and Maruyama I. N. (2011) Nerve growth factor receptor TrkA exists as a preformed, yet inactive, dimer in living cells. FEBS Letters 585, 295-299. 
  • Trujilla, G., Nakata, K., Yan, D., Maruyama, I. N., and Jin, Y. (2010) A ubiquitin E2 variant protein acts in axon termination and synaptogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegansGenetics 186, 135-145.  

Media articles picked up the Unit work